Entries in Taxpayers (20)

Wednesday
Jul112018

Media Research Center slams NJ Legislature for “propaganda bill”

It’s not quite Joseph Goebbels’ Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda or Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda (don’t all these ideas sound more at home in their original German… or Russian… or Spanish… or Chinese…???) but it’s a start in that direction.  Yep, it is bad enough that the state forces every property taxpayer to subsidize the larger state newspapers by requiring county and local governments to pay for advertisements – notices that they could put on their government websites for free – but now we have direct government funding of so-called “journalism”.  Stand by for the FAKE NEWS to fly.

Our friends at the Media Research Center hit the nail on the head…

NJ Passes State-Funded News Bill - Isn't That Called 'Propaganda?'

By P. Gardner Goldsmith

Glorious news! Following in the footsteps of the Obama-approved and promoted “Portman-Murphy Counter-Propaganda Act” of 2016, which sets aside over $150 million in federal tax funds to hand to dinosaur news media outlets, the legislature of New Jersey is finally ready to do its part! Isn’t that exciting?

Absolutely! As Joe Setyon reports for Reason, both the NJ House and Senate recently passed a bill to create the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium - state-funded news – beyond the already hair-graying public television and radio systems and state-funded colleges in the Garden State.

It’s a $5 million handout to “local press”, because, you know, when people don’t find it in their interest to purchase local newspapers or visit local news websites, they should be forced to pay for what they don’t want…

Right?

Writes Setyon:

The legislation in question creates a nonprofit group, the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium, charged with approving grant applications for local news. The bill has passed both houses of the state legislature; Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, has not yet signed it, but on Sunday he did sign a state budget that sets aside the money.

You can read the full article here: 

https://www.mrctv.org/blog/nj-legislature-passes-state-funded-news-aka-propaganda-bill

Setyon adds:

The liberal Free Press Action Fund has been pushing for such legislation for years. The group initially asked for a much larger endowment of $100 million, but it still greeted the news with pleasure. 'Never before has a state taken the lead to address the growing crisis in local news,' State Director Mike Rispoli said in a statement, calling New Jersey  a model for the rest of the nation.'

No thanks. There’s been enough of this nonsense in other areas of American culture. We don’t need it in journalism. And can one still call it “journalism” when it’s funded by the state?

Technically, the more precise term is “propaganda”.

For more information on the work of the Media Research Center, visit…

https://www.mrc.org/

Friday
Jul062018

William J Hayden: Do you agree with President Trump that Americans should come first?

**William J. Hayden is the Vice President of Skylands Tea Party**

In society we protect what we love and care for. 
Our families are protected at night by a minimum of a locked door. And by possibly a weapon of some type.
The rich and connected, have fences, security systems, and armed guards.
And in all instances, we want to know who we are letting in, before they come in, for our protection. 
Our banks, and government buildings all protected as well. And in many instances again, you have to show who you are, or at least show you are not a threat.

So why would we let people into this country without knowing who they are?  
After all, this country is our collective home. We all live here, we should all know that those coming here are at least not a threat. 

Here is a stat that should put things into perspective as to why we want to know who is here.

95% of foreign nationals in federal prison are illegal aliens 

Actually 23% of all federal inmates are illegal

Your safety should be #1 and illegal immigration is unsafe

 

Thursday
May312018

Boss Graham and the boys get personal with Sussex Mom

By Sam Adams (A Reader) 

The Turkish are coming the Turkish are coming, or at least that's what Boss Graham would like you to believe.  

Reminiscent of the movie The Russians Are Coming. But unfortunately not as funny.  

It's about as believable as Russian collision, but that already taken by the Democrats, Boss Graham’s people. And with collusion we see how that has cost the taxpayers.  

At this point they seem to be willing to throw anything at Councilwoman Fantasia.  

She does not own a charter school. 

She isn't funded by extremists.  

Moreover all of this hogwash is laughable.  

But if you want a good fairy tale sit on old Boss Grahams lap and listen to him spin a good tail.  Just remember, with him and his people, there is no happy ending.  

Taxes will go up, the solar thing will run unresolved into Boss Graham’s election, and you'll have funded all this with your tax money for them to score political points!!

------- 

Over the weekend, a blog run by Freeholder Jonathan Rose made some claims about a charter school in Bergen County.  It claimed that the school was controlled by a Muslim cleric. 

That turned out to be a lie. 

Freeholder Rose’s blog claimed that the Muslim cleric was a “terrorist”. 

That turned out to be a lie too.

The most troubling aspect of this is that Freeholder Rose operates his blog with input from fellow Freeholders George Graham and Carl Lazzaro.  That’s a Freeholder Board majority, making their actions the actions of Sussex County!  

And just as troubling is the involvement of New Jersey Herald reporter Eric Obernauer.  In open conflict-of-interest, the Warren County resident is also a Sussex County official.

Here are the facts.

The charter school (Bergen Arts and Science Charter School) has no affiliation with any political or religious institutions. Period.

When asked, the school administration noted:  “The only exception is our professional affiliations with colleges and universities in the state with whom we collaborate in our educational programs, such as the past placement of student teachers from the College of St. Elizabeth. Some school buildings are leased from Catholic dioceses, but the schools are not affiliated with the Catholic Church.”

The Muslim cleric that Freeholder Rose’s blog smeared as a “terrorist” is a religious leader named Fethullah Gulen.  He is a religious moderate and an ally of the United States of America, which has provided him with protection from persecution.  Gulen lives in Pennsylvania and has been praised by the Pope.  Yes, the Pope.

Gulen is a religious leader, originally from Turkey, who opposed the hard-line Islamist regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.  Erdogan is the increasingly dictatorial and Islamist President of Turkey.  Erdogen has been repeatedly in the news for purging the judiciary, jailing journalists who write unflattering reports, and successfully intimidating the opposition.  Erdogan had a law passed to allow the government to ban websites and he has promised to "rip out the roots" of Twitter.  He has even attempted to censor speech in other nations, in 2015 Turkey demanding that Germany prosecute a poet who had written some verse critical of Erdogan. 

Gulen accused Erdogan of political corruption in 2013.  Erdogan responded by banning Gulen's books.  Erdogan had Gulen indicted on charges that a Turkish judge threw out.  So Erdogan had Gulen re-indicted a few months later for treasonable offenses that carried the death penalty.  Gulen fled Turkey, came to the United States, and was convicted in absentia.  He faces death if he returns to Turkey.

Freeholder Rose’s assertion that religious leader Gulen is a “terrorist” is nothing more than a parroting of Islamist dictator Erdogan’s propaganda. As the United States State Department has stated over and over again, “Gulen has condemned terrorism.”  In fact, he was the firstMuslim religious leader to condemn terrorism, warning that it “has no place in Islam.”  Gulen wrote a condemnation article in the Washington Poston September 12, 2001, one day after the September 11 attacks, and stated that “A Muslim cannot be a terrorist, nor can a terrorist be a true Muslim.”   

Finally, an investigation by the Bergen Record uncovered no direct evidence of Gulen’s involvement in the operation of charter schools in New Jersey. 

So what we have is a blog run by the three-member majority (Rose-Lazzaro-Graham) of the Board of Chosen Freeholders of Sussex County making a false and defamatory statement against a Charter School, licensed by the State of New Jersey, and a religious leader who has been praised by the Pope and other religious leaders – and who is under the protection of the United States of America. What are these three thinking? 

Now here is the story behind the story of why officeholders like Jonathan Rose have been looped into recycling the propaganda of an Islamist dictator.

A number of New Jersey political insiders – major players in the New Jersey political establishment – work for an international lobbying firm called Mercury Public Affairs.  For example, Juan Melli was recently hired as a Vice President.  Melli is the founder of BlueJersey.com, a former associate editor and columnist for David Wildstein's PolitickerNJ.com, and communications manager for Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer.  Melli joins several other members of the New Jersey political establishment at Mercury Public Affairs.  These include Mo Butler, United States Senator Cory Booker's campaign consultant, former chief of staff, and "longtime advisor"; Michael Soliman, United States Senator and former Chairman of the Senate Committee of Foreign Relations Robert Menendez's political advisor and former State Director; and Michael DuHaime, Governor Chris Christie's campaign consultant and someone who has GOP contacts throughout the state. 

Once upon a time, campaign managers were locals who came up through the ranks alongside the politicians whose careers they helped to manage.  But as more money washed into DC and was funneled into campaigns, that changed.  Consultants proliferated and firms became larger.  Following the money, a few either merged with or morphed into public relations and lobbying (government relations) operations.  Why not?  Corporations paid big for access to politicians and there is nobody politicians love more than the person who got them elected. 

It was only a matter of time that things went global.  And that is why these New Jersey political operatives became members of an international firm representing the interests of quite a few unsavory foreign governments.  Mercury Public Affairs is itself a subsidiary of an even larger international firm that handles the image-making  for Russian President Vladimir Putin, receiving credit for, among other accomplishments, getting Putin's face on the cover of Timemagazine -- as the "Person of the Year" for 2007. 

Mercury Public Affairs began in 1999 as a decidedly Republican shop with connections to the RNC and politicians like John McCain and Mitt Romney, around 2013 it embarked on a mission to "diversify" -- meaning making the firm "more bipartisan and full-service."  Mike DuHaime joined the firm in 2009, first as a "managing director" but swiftly rising to partner.  Michael Soliman joined Mercury in 2013 and became a partner this year.  Mo Butler joined as a "managing director" in 2016.  Mercury Public Affairs has 10 partners and 160 employees.  Omnicom purchased Mercury in 2003.

Mercury Public Affairs has 18 offices worldwide -- including London; Mexico City; Washington, DC; New York; and Westfield, New Jersey.  The New Jersey offices (a satellite operates out of Trenton) of Mercury are the haunt of Messrs. DuHaime, Soliman, Butler, and other connected operatives like newspaperman Darryl Isherwood (former top political reporter for the Star-Ledgerand editor of PolitickerNJ), and "Christie campaign vet" Mark Mowers.   

In January 2015, Michael Soliman registered with the United States Justice Department, pursuant to the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, as a person representing the Embassy of the State of Qatar.  You must have read about Qatar in the news...Amnesty International has accused Qatar of being complicit in human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Yes, slavery.  In fact, the United Nations recently gave Qatar one year "to end migrant worker slavery" or face an international investigation.   

Qatar is just one of freedom's garden spots represented by Mercury Public Affairs. Remember the controversy in Uganda, when the President of that country decided that homosexuality was a crime that should be punishable by death?  Well, the law he wanted passed was "moderated" in December 2013, substituting life imprisonment for the death penalty.   In 2015, Mercury was brought on to provide public relations, lobbying, and media monitoring services with regards to the Office of the President and the Ugandan government in general on subjects beginning with "human rights" and ending with "good governance."  For which the contract calls for Mercury to be compensated at the rate of $50,000 per month, with $150,000 up front.

Mercury also represents individuals.  Folks like Khalid bin Saqr Al Qasimi, who in 2003 led an anti-American demonstration in which he personally burned an American flag.  For its work, Mercury pocketed a $30,000 monthly retainer, plus expenses. 

In January 2016, Mercury Public Affairs partner Morris Reid negotiated a contract with Amsterdam & Partners, an international law firm with offices in London and Washington, DC.  The document is marked "confidential and privileged" but is public information under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.  In August of 2015, Amsterdam & Partners signed a contract with the Turkish Ambassador to the United States to provide legal services related to a "matter of importance" to the embassy.  The government of Turkey paid Amsterdam a retainer of $50,000 a month. 

While the contract stipulates that the greatest security and confidentiality be observed, under the terms of the contract between Amsterdam and Turkey, third parties may be hired "as the Firm and the Client agree in writing are necessary to further the Engagement."  And so, in March of 2016, Amsterdam hired Mercury to perform work on behalf of the Turkish government for $20,000 a month -- above and beyond what was being paid to Amsterdam by Turkey.  It is in the contract between Amsterdam & Partners and Mercury Public Affairs that we learn what all this cloak and dagger is in aid of:

The Amsterdam-Mercury contract references an "investigation into Fethullah Gulen and his organization in the United States."  We know who he is.

The government of Turkish President Erdogan has been trying to extradite Gulen back to Turkey so they can put him to death, but the government of the United States is protecting him. In the hours after a Turkish coup attempt in 2016, Erdogan was quick to blame Gulen, while Gulen put forward the theory that Erdogan had staged the coup himself in order to consolidate power. 

The Associated Pressidentified Amsterdam & Partners (the firm Mercury is working for) as "lawyer(s) for the Turkish government" and quoted Robert Amsterdam:  "There are indications of direct involvement (in the coup attempt) by Fethullah Gulen." Amsterdam added that "according to Turkish intelligence sources, there are signs that Gulen is working closely with certain members of military leadership against the elected civilian government."  That sounds a lot like Freeholder Rose’s blog, doesn’t it? 

Why does Mercury Public Affairs want to be a part of extraditing a moderate religious leader to satisfy the rage of an Islamist dictator?  The answer is simple:  MONEY… FOREIGN MONEY… THE FOREIGN MONEY OF AN ISLAMIST DICTATOR. 

Why are members of the Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders associating themselves with an effort to tarnish the reputation of a moderate religious leader, which will make it easier to extradite and murder said religious leader?

The close relationships with many in New Jersey politics that Mercury's partners and employees enjoy is a matter for deep concern.  Freeholder Boss George Graham operates a political consulting business.  Has he been hired by Mercury, a client of Mercury, or an associate of Mercury?  His public disclosure reports require him only to list his political consulting firm, not its clients or sources of money. 

Both Freeholders Jonathan Rose and Carl Lazzaro operate similar businesses that hide their sources of income from the public, making it impossible to know whether or not their assault on this moderate religious leader was inspired by Mercury Public Affairs.  In any case, as the three members of the Freeholder Board constitute a majority and they have launched this attack, they should publicly come clean about it.

Wouldn't it be better if the Sussex County Freeholder Board stuck with figuring out how lower property taxes and cut debt instead of shilling for foreign governments?  With all this money from foreign powers floating around, the Board should avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. 

Finally, trashing the reputation of a Charter School and calling someone a “terrorist” who isn’t are things that can get the Freeholder Board’s majority sued. If that happens, who is going to pay for it?  The taxpayer, of course!

Thursday
May172018

Freeholders gave raises to 50 insiders... stiffed regular workers

If you want to know why the county workers who plow the snow and fix the roads are so up in arms, consider this:  What were Freeholders Rose and Lazzaro thinking to be in the middle of contract negotiations with the county's blue-collar union workers, telling them you need to hold-the-line on spending, while handing out big raises to 50 of your white-collar cronies?   

Are these guys stupid, clueless, arrogant, or all three?

Actually, it is much simpler than that.  They do as Freeholder Boss George Graham tells them, and he is in the middle of doing some serious Empire Building.  Like taking over the Sheriff's Department, so he can turn it into the kind of patronage den they have back in Hudson County, where Graham, a former Democrat Party political consultant, ran campaigns for the Mayor of Bayonne and the like.

A recent letter from a reader explains it:

SOURCE: Freeholder Minutes, May 9, 2018

Now there is a justifiable anger from those county employees who have not been on the receiving end of the largesse of Freeholders Graham, Rose, and Lazzaro. For the first time in memory, the CWA employees union made an endorsement and endorsed their opponents. Such is the anger out there. 

It is clear that the three Freeholders have lost the moral high ground by handing out raises to their friends.  They cannot be agents for fiscal responsibility while they behave in such an irresponsible manner.  Perhaps two new freeholders, without the baggage of having taken care of their cronies, can argue on behalf of the taxpayers, for fiscal restraint, that we are all taxpayers and in this together?

Perhaps they can.  Because the incumbents certainly cannot. 

Tuesday
Apr242018

Disappointed in the guys running the Freeholder Board

In 2015, the New Jersey Herald supported the election of two local mayors -- Jonathan Rose and Carl Lazzaro -- to the Freeholder Board.  They beat an incumbent Freeholder and his running mate.

On election night, the defeated incumbent said:  "(My running mate) and I didn't only have two individual opponents, we also had the New Jersey Herald as an opponent." 

That's true, along with many regular Republicans who looked at the solar project as a scam and a taxpayer rip-off.  For these reasons, Watchdog also supported Rose and Lazzaro. 

The Herald called the failed solar project "far and away the biggest issue of the campaign."  Rose and Lazzaro were elected on the promise of either making the solar project run efficiently or getting our money back.  

But after getting elected, they formed a Freeholder Board majority with incumbent George Graham that left millions worth of valuable solar panels and equipment unused and rotting away in a warehouse.  

Instead of taking legal advice to go after the bond attorney whose responsibility it was to protect Sussex County taxpayers -- they re-hired him and accepted a large campaign contribution from him. 

They spent more than $500,000 to "study" the problem -- by giving a no-bid contract to the same lawyer whose office had approved the solar project in the first place.  That's right, his office was the taxpayers' last line of defense -- but said "do it" anyway.  Why was hehanded the contract to figure out what had gone wrong? 

Rose and Lazarro praised that report -- which never once mentioned the failure by the bond attorney or the lawyer who wrote the report -- but cost taxpayers $8,064 per page and is all but useless in pursuing a case to claw back some of the millions lost by Sussex County property taxpayers. 

The solar fiasco happened because there were no taxpayer controls over borrowing.  So when a Republican candidate for Freeholder named Herb Yardley suggested that Sussex County adopt the same ordinance that Warren County uses to curb debt -- that no new borrowing occur without the approval of the voters -- you would've expected the majority on the Freeholder Board to support him. 

But that's not what happened.  Freeholders Graham and Lazarro came out in opposition to taxpayer control over borrowing -- leaving the door wide open to future solar-type scams.  To make matters worse, these Freeholders refused to support fellow Republican Yardley because he was in favor of this conservative, common sense proposal.  

Warren County is cutting property taxes because of this reform, while in Sussex County property taxes continue to go up.  But these Sussex Freeholders actually opposed giving property taxpayers controls over debt so much that they would have rather seen a liberal Democrat win than elect a conservative Republican who supports such a reform measure.

Then there's the Freeholders' recent vote to borrow to spend millions more on new buildings for the county community college at a time when community college enrollment is shrinking by 8,000 hours a year and county population is in decline.  It makes no sense -- and the voters had no voice to stop it. 

Why?  It all comes back to transparency and open government.  Rose and Lazarro campaigned on being transparent but have been anything but.  No-bid contracts negotiated and handed out without the knowledge of the Board.  And backroom dealing is so commonplace that county insiders knew Jonathan Rose was the next Freeholder director before he did.  Before the vote was taken, it had been published in the Freeholder agenda.  

If Rose and Lazarro want to be re-elected, they are going to need to explain how the next three years will be different from the last three.  They will need to own up to past mistakes and set out an agenda to correct them.

Stay tuned...